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To chalk this up as CFery, and cancel the sleepover?

(205 Posts)
Skittlesandbeer Thu 26-Apr-18 04:34:56

Backstory: we live 9 months a year in an urban centre, 3 months each year we move to the country to bring in a harvest at our small farm.

We have a great relationship with our all our farm neighbours, and try hard to be good community members even though we are crazy busy when we are at the farm (as we are now). Our next-door neighbours have become quite close with us in recent years, due to us having DDs the same age (7) who adore each other.

Last summer, unbeknownst to us, they decided to heavily ‘prune’ the row of 25yo bushy cypress trees which form the ‘fence’ between our properties, about 15 trees. Basically they stripped all the lower branches, to over 2 metres from the ground, think lollipops. It effectively makes it look like one property, rather than two, and took away a lot of our privacy as well as wind-protection and gave us line of sight to a busy road.

The trees were originally planted on our side of the boundary (trunks), with large branches on either side. The neighbours needed to be on our property to complete half the job, and a big 3-4 day job it would’ve been, too. They didn’t get in touch before, during or after.

When I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I actually stood there, rubbing my eyes and shaking my head in case I was seeing things. Their chickens, dogs and kids had evidently been using our garden as an extension to theirs all year. I invited her over for tea and asked her through fairly clenched teeth what had happened. She was shocked we didn’t like the new look, and seemed to expect thanks for all their hard work😧. I was quite proud at how calmly I told her that no, we were going to need them to reinstate the boundary with something equally natural (ie not some cheap metal panelling) asap. At this point she gets teary and tells me they are putting their house on the market, and are short of funds due to property improvements they’ve made. (Yeah, like the chainsaw fuel they needed to double their garden space, I thought loudly).

I stood my ground and made sure DH did the same seperately with neighbour DH. He (but not she) apologised profusely, said ‘it made sense to do it at the time, but now that you explain it, I can see we did the wrong thing’. He is a builder by trade so we agreed he would consider the fencing options, and get back to us. We tried to look at it as a ‘spilt milk’ situation, and got on with our harvest.

Fast forward 2 months. We’re nearing the end of our farm work, kids have been playing together a lot, families sharing food, help, excursions, etc. A few times we’ve raised the fence topic, looking to get it resolved before they formally put their house up for sale, so we don’t have randoms walking through our property when we’re not here. Vague nodding from them. Today I go over to get firm confirmation of the plan, and timings. She squares off at me and states that they will not be doing or paying anything towards the fence, that they were completely justified in what they did, that we should stop pestering them about it when they’ve got so much on their plates (designing their new house) and anyway, we’re hardly ever here to use our garden so why are we making such an unreasonable fuss?

I’m stood there like shock then burst into tears and run off home. I’m usually so capable and practical and calm, but she’s ruined my lovely private garden, devalued my property, patently waited until I’m trying to finalise our business and pack up the house to drop this bombshell. Admittedly I’m exhausted and stressed, and fairly ‘peopled out’.

The girls have a long-awaited sleepover at theirs on Saturday, before we leave Monday. AIBU to fake an excuse to cancel it (with all the drama it’ll cause with the girls) and add further bad feeling? I just want a quiet few days to figure out what to do with these CFs, and finish my work. I thought they were sane, and friends. Unless of course we’ve been unreasonable too?

MainGrain Thu 26-Apr-18 04:43:52

Seriously? They damaged your property and trespassed to do so!

I'd be advising her that until they replaced/repaired to your satisfaction that you would be making any real estate agents know of an ongoing dispute whenever they started listing their house for sale.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 26-Apr-18 04:44:17

They are absolutely awful but it’s not your DD’s fault. If you trust them to still take good care of her after everything then let her have the sleepover and enjoy your quiet night at home.

Have your DH talk to hers privately as it sounds like he’s the more reasonable of the two.

I doubt they will do anything if it will make the sale of their own property more smooth. They should feel horrible but your DD shouldn’t.

CartoonsAndVodka Thu 26-Apr-18 04:45:01

I don't think it's worth punishing your DD or theirs because of the parents' actions. I wouldn't cancel their sleepover.

I would get a quote for a quick fix fence - metal panels or not - and get it installed asap before you leave. They've made their position clear and there's clearly no trust left. Sorry about your trees. sad

MainGrain Thu 26-Apr-18 04:45:39

Oops sorry I didn't answer the aibu. I'd cancel the sleepover, as much distress as it may cause your dd they need to understand you're unhappy and won't be bullied into just letting the matter drop.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 26-Apr-18 04:47:38

Second the installing the fence thing. The ugliest one you can find with huge “keep out”, “private property” signs.

Shadow666 Thu 26-Apr-18 04:59:40

The thing is, if they don't have any spare money to fix it then they don't have it. If I were you, I'd put up a good solid fence that they can't cross and just be done with the matter. They were wrong to prune the trees but they're under pressure and this is probably the least of their worries.

I wouldn't cancel the sleepover though.

Maursh Thu 26-Apr-18 05:17:25

Erect your own fence: make it cheap, make it ugly. Barbed wire perhaps?
The trees will have grown back by next year and you can take it down then.

inTIRFace Thu 26-Apr-18 05:22:51

Very unfair to cancel the sleepover.

Are you in the UK? If you are it's a great chance (after) to remind them that buyers must be told of disputes with neighbours.

House sales now come under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations.

Nodnol Thu 26-Apr-18 05:24:21

Put up the ugliest, cheapest fence you can find. Plaster it with keep out signs. Make sure any prospective realtors know where the boundary is and that they include that on all property information.

I would cancel the sleepover personally. I would be so furious that I’d not want a thing to do with any of them. I wouldn’t be able to trust them any longer.

SugarPlumLairy Thu 26-Apr-18 05:27:14

Would it be worth getting legal advice on damage to property/trespass etc and see if you can pursue some sort of action. Possibly just the threat of that would encourage them to make right the damage they've caused and address how they've devalued your property?
I fount there's enough there to put a lien on their house sale for damages but certainly do disclose to estate absents/buyers that thereisongoing dispute re the fence.

MrsCrabbyTree Thu 26-Apr-18 05:33:36

A website that may be of some help - gardenlaw UK. Many knowledgeable and helpful members on it.

TammyWhyNot Thu 26-Apr-18 05:39:15

Hopefully the tree branches will grow back on time?

If so put up a cheap wire fence, lines of wire stretched between the trees, and quickly plant a few fast growing creepers along it.

Let your Dd go on the sleepover.

They have done a bad thing. But presumably they were entitled to cut the branches overhanging their own property? Also, if you are away for 9 months you need neighbours who will call you if something happens. So I wouldn’t burn all bridges.

Juells Thu 26-Apr-18 05:56:37

If the trees were on your property I wouldn't string wire between them, as that's handing them whatever strip of land is between the trees and the boundary. The fence needs to go right on the boundary this time.

It doesn't sound like it's in the UK, does it?

thebewilderness Thu 26-Apr-18 05:59:41

They are moving so it is unlikely that the children's friendship will continue. You need to get the law involved before they sell your land along with theirs.

MyOtherProfile Thu 26-Apr-18 06:04:37

It sounds to me like you may not be in the UK? Either way of be looking at the law and pushing this further. I agree to start with getting your dh to speak with her dh though.
And unless it would be unpleasant for your dd i would let the sleepover go ahead.

eddielizzard Thu 26-Apr-18 06:30:34

don't cancel the sleepover, but make it clear to her you're devastated and why (if you haven't already). this is awful.

Mumsnut Thu 26-Apr-18 06:33:47

Well, you could always inform their estate agents of the property dispute, and ask that they pass it on to the buyers.

Mumsnut Thu 26-Apr-18 06:35:08

I mean, tell them that you'll be telling the estate agents. Buyers generally don't want to look at a property with a dispute attached.

Parentingissotough Thu 26-Apr-18 06:36:20

Do the sleepover, put up a cheap as chips fence. Say you understand financially they can’t afford to rectify the damage but that if they want to come onto your land again they must call you first as you’ve had to put new security in due to some prowlers.

Mummyoflittledragon Thu 26-Apr-18 06:37:37

I wouldn’t want to trust her to look after my dd anymore. If she can act like this to your face, how do you know how she will act in private? Your dd will get over the lack of a sleepover far better than if she’s treated badly. The other option is to let it go ahead but give her a mobile phone. But at 7 idk, if she’d use it if things get difficult. On balance, I wouldn’t.

As for the damage to your bushes. Will the branches grow back? Idk about cypress trees, I can’t imagine they’re particularly fast growing. I’d be pursuing them for damages and replacement of the trees or a decent and attractive fence. They can pay you from the proceeds of the sale of the house if they’re so hard up. Can you speak to a solicitor? You need to start doing this in writing.

Do you have any friends or more trustworthy neighbours you could ask to keep an eye on your property while you’re away?

sonjadog Thu 26-Apr-18 06:38:07

I would start making this difficult for them. Tell her that you will inform the estate agent about the dispute so that sellers will be informed. Then get some cheap fencing and put it up yourselves. Cancel the sleepover. The friendship and good tone with your neighbors is off until they have fixed this. They are betting on you backing down to keep a good tone, but really as they are moving, who cares what tone you have with them? It disadvantages them and not you for you two fall out.

Skittlesandbeer Thu 26-Apr-18 06:41:21

I have looked into the tree damage a bit... it seems the branches may not grow back at all, or only in a wispy way. Even if they did grow back as they were it would take decades. They were huge. Now huge lollipops.

I’d be really happy to be corrected by a proper tree person, with better information.

Looks like MN is fairly evenly split on the sleepover thing. Maybe you guys can help me compose a text that lets HER off the hook with the invitation. Frankly I’m guessing neighbour mum would be just as relieved to get out of it.

Something along the lines of ‘Look would you rather just raincheck the sleepover, with everything else that’s happening at the moment? If you agree, just wave out your kitchen window. I can see you clear as crystal, where once the beautiful trees would have been in the way.’

Ok, maybe drop that last bit... grin

Graphista Thu 26-Apr-18 06:45:00

Cheekiest fuckers going!

I'd cancel the sleepover. I couldn't stomach my child going to theirs, possibly overhearing them slagging you or their child saying how horrible you're being to her parents.

Plus as a pp says they're not going to be staying friends anyway if they're moving.

And sue their arses! Or at the very least get a solicitor to send them a strongly worded letter pointing out the laws they've broken. Wilful damage to property, repeated trespass, depending where you are there might be more!

Gotta wonder wtf they were thinking!

And yes put a VERY obvious fence up (and send them the bill!)

Skittlesandbeer Thu 26-Apr-18 06:48:20

And sorry, not in the UK. Don’t think we have your neighbour dispute revelation system, connected to the property. It’s a fascinating idea though. I assume it causes many petty disputes to simmer down, given the home/property is usually people’s biggest asset?

To sour the sale I’d have to parade up and down the boundary doing antisocial things during inspection times. Middle-aged naked prancing might do it, the weather’s fairly mild.

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